Introduction. Political arithmetic: old and new

Day, Sophie E.; Lury, Celia and Ward, Helen. 2023. Introduction. Political arithmetic: old and new. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 24(2), pp. 157-166. ISSN 1600-910X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The articles in this Special Issue arose from a workshop in June 2021 ( which considered whether we might understand the enormous variety of calculations we encounter today as a political arithmetic. Our proposal was that the term provides a powerful way to understand the political nature of calculations of economic and social value. In this introduction we showcase how contributors address the proposal in studies of personalisation, competitive test formats, algorithmic profiling, YouTube personalities and the significance of information as an increasingly important medium of ‘the social. We suggest that, together, these developments are transforming relations between the individual and society today in ways that both intensify inequalities and provide the basis for new forms of individual and collective identity.

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This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust [grant, 205456/Z/16/Z].

'This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number 205456/Z/16/Z]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.'


political arithmetic, personalization, transmutation, the ‘social’

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31 July 2023Accepted
31 August 2023Published

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11 Aug 2023 09:49

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2023 15:36


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